Your Personal Safety Comes First With Airbnb

I have heard hundreds of horror stories from neighbors, guests and hosts alike. First of all, I cannot believe the number of people who give total strangers the keys to their home. Unless these hosts are changing the locks after each guest, they are asking for huge problems. A guest could easily have a copy of the key made and come back to the home at any time. Since guests book online, you have absolutely no idea who these people are who are staying in your home. It could be another Ted Bundy who may rape and kill your daughters. It could be another Jeffrey Dahmer who may rape and kill your sons. It could be a serial killer who could return in the middle of the night at some future date and kill your entire family. Or, in a less violent scenario, the guest may return sometime while you are away and rob your home. If you are going to allow strangers into your home:

1) Get a copy of the driver’s license of any guest who will be staying at your home.

2) Get an electronic front door lock and change the code after each guest departs.

3) Be sure you have dead bolt locks on all bedroom doors where your family members are sleeping.

In the US there are all sorts of online sites where you can check people’s backgrounds. Sign up for a membership to one of these sites and do a preliminary background check on each guest who will be staying in your home. There are actually a lot of very nice people in the world and you may be lucky enough to host some of these people in your home. However, there are also some very unethical, sick and violent people out there. Your first priority should be to protect yourself and your family.

Victim of Theft in Mexico Gets No Response From Airbnb

I was very disappointed at how my hosts at Mexico City handled the situation after 700 USD was stolen from my suitcase while staying at their house. I thought that in a system based on trust as it is, it worked both ways. I trusted that they knew the person who was coming to clean my bedroom – a cleaning service which I had already paid for – and for whom they asked me to leave the door unlocked for her to clean up. I thought that they knew the people who they let into the house and that could be in contact with my belongings. They never offered me a safe place to leave my valuables, like a safe or a locker, nor did they warn me that they didn’t know the maid.

When I returned to my bedroom at that night, I found that I was missing more than half the money that I had brought with me. I asked them about the situation; I was very distressed, on the verge of tears. They passed off responsibility to the cleaning company, who obviously was not going to give me back anything. The hosts never accounted for what had happened in their house with their guest. I still had two more days there and I was scared for the rest of my belongings.

I left Mexico without a resolution, having received better attention at the time of reporting the crime to the authorities than that with my own hosts or the Airbnb call center. They never offered to give me back the money for my stay or give me any compensation, but they wanted to find someone to blame. Almost a month has passed and the Airbnb “resolution center” hasn’t given me any answer.

P.S. Their cat would also enter my bedroom at night (it couldn’t be locked from the inside) and pee on the floor…

Mykonos Villa Robbed, But Airbnb Nightmare Did Not End

My objective here is to raise awareness about how unsafe any vacation rental can be if you don’t ask the right questions early enough in the process. This is especially true if the owner has not taken even basic security measures, which Airbnb either does not require or does not concern themselves with. It is your responsibility as guests to ask.

This was our first and last Airbnb experience. Airbnb allowed us to walk straight into a mine field. Airbnb did not respond to our emails for help for 11 days. When they did, it was a form email requesting that we (1) get a police report; (2) document what was stolen; (3) prove our ownership of those items. For parents, if your children are the “guests” and you are not travelling with them, then a little forethought about what to do if trouble occurs would be good planning. If you are still going to use Airbnb, here are the top ten questions we did not ask but should have:

1. Is the villa an actual home or an investment rental property overseen by a management company?

2. Where does the villa owner reside? Are they in the country? What will be their physical proximity to the villa while you are renting?

3. Does the villa have a security system? Does it work? Are there instructions for use in the event one exists?

4. Is there a home safe in the villa? Is it operational?

5. Does the villa have external lighting or motion detectors?

6. Who has keys to the villa other than the owner? Have any keys been given to maintenance personnel or former contractors? Are all owner’s keys accounted for?

7. What is Airbnb’s policy for refunds for robberies/evacuation? While their refund terms and conditions state that you must report any dissatisfaction within 24 hours of arrival, why did Airbnb pay the owner when a complaint was already sent via email within 12 hours of our arrival? By the way: no one answers a phone at Airbnb. Do they even have customer support? Who takes priority, guests or owners, or neither?

8. What is Airbnb’s advertised response time to a serious matter such as a robbery? We arrived at the villa at 5:00 PM local time June 7th; the robbery was reported to them June 8th at 5:00 AM local/10:00 PM PST June 7th. We received an email response June 18th.

9. Does Airbnb know that their online availability calendars are excellent for determining when units are occupied and precise arrival dates? I’m guessing the best day for a robbery is the first night.

10. Does Airbnb know that their interior and exterior photographs are useful for would-be robbers to study floor plans and access points?

We were robbed on our first night in an Airbnb at 4:00 AM. We interrupted the thief (in a ski mask) in the third bedroom after he had already ransacked the first two (all the bedrooms were occupied). We chased him out of the house. The adjoining villa was also robbed where the thief knew exactly how to enter (broken door that was not obvious to guests) and had a key to our villa (from a former contractor). Thief took mostly cash.

The real terror occurred when the thief returned later that same day in broad daylight. The adjoining villa guest engaged him (slashed his tires, etc.). In retaliation, the thief called “friends” and within minutes a half dozen of his buddies arrived. Outnumbered and seeing no positive outcome, we reached out to local friends who found us another accommodation.

Robberies are not uncommon on Mykonos; it is a high-end island, with lots of private expensive villas and plenty of opportunities to steal. The police are not equipped to deal with the massive influx of people during high season; when they finally arrived at the behest of the villa owner’s management company we had alerted, they arrested the thief for drug possession. No cash or possessions were recovered. Knowing his “buddies” were still on the loose, not knowing his intent for returning, and knowing he had a key, we could not stay.

Sound security measures are available on Mykonos for those owners using common sense. At our next villa we found: external cameras throughout the property; external lighting and motion detectors; management residing across the street who lives on the island; home safes in villa that were functioning. These are basic security measures. The Greek people who helped us at the next villa were extraordinary. They too were upset that guests on their beautiful island were victimized. They value having guests and depend on tourism for their livelihood.

What is Airbnb’s responsibility? Is security ever mentioned in an Airbnb listing? Do they deliberately avoid the topic? It’s probably not good for business. Airbnb leaves it to you to address the security/safety topic. If you arrive at a villa and see that basic securities measures are lacking, it is not grounds for a refund. It should be. In one respect we were lucky: the owner was so appalled by our experience she refunded our payment directly to us that day. Ironically, the owner was afraid Airbnb would not be forthcoming or helpful. Mykonos is an amazing island, but you must use common sense and take responsibility for your own safety if you are using Airbnb. At every other accommodation we did not book through Airbnb (Santorini, Kefalonia, Zakynthos) we found all the standard security measures one would expect to find in a high-end property. Shame on Airbnb.

Triple Billed by Airbnb, Had to Contact Bank

I was triple billed for my Airbnb stay. That is, Airbnb deducted my fee of $124 three times for the same date. I attempted to contact Airbnb, but all one can find is their ridiculous “ask the community” nonsense. They should hire more people. I finally did find an email address and after making a complaint, I talked to a number of “representatives of the team” who could not understand my complaint and asked me to contact the host, who had nothing whatsoever to do with the billing as he only gets paid after our stay. Finally I phoned the bank to ask them to reimburse me for these illegal charges. I left for my trip with the situation still unsettled. Upon my return I saw by my bank receipt that I had been reimbursed, but I never received any communication much less an apology for my lost time and frustration from Airbnb. Two months after this I now note that $124 has just been charged by Airbnb without any communication whatsoever, even though my billing history on Airbnb shows that I have paid for this stay. Once again I have spent over an hour trying to track down Airbnb’s email address or phone number. What a dishonest company. I will phone tomorrow, but I believe that I will once again have to contact my bank to stop this robbery.

Valuables Stolen at Barcelona Airbnb, No Resolution

My daughter and her friend checked into their Airbnb in Barcelona on May 13th, 2017. They went out for the night and came back to find all their valuables gone: two Macbooks, two GoPros, one gold bracelet, and my daughter’s baby blanket that always travels with her. They called the police who came to the apartment. They called Airbnb who told them to go to a hotel, but it was the grand prix that weekend and they had trouble finding one at 2:00 AM. The girls filed a police report and stayed in a hotel for the next four nights because they were afraid to stay in an Airbnb at that point. Airbnb was very supportive at first and offered to help. The apartment host changed his name and picture the next morning for the same place but my daughter could not review on it because they did not stay there. Airbnb has done nothing about that. We have been trying to contact Airbnb for the past nine days. I have called five different times and spoke to five different people all with a promise to call me back about our claims. To this date, nobody has returned my calls. I waited on the phone today for over an hour to talk to a manager and was then finally cut off with no call back (they took my number). When I called again, they would not transfer me to a manager and I had to start all over. I am unable to contact them through the website. I only have a few standard questions but there is nobody to contact. This is pretty frustrating and for such a big company, you would think they would have amazing customer service. Shame on them!

Host is a Scammer, Leaves my Parents outside in Barcelona

I’m searching how can I get a live and not automatic reply to the problem my parents encountered during their last visit to Barcelona. My parents’ English is not good enough for written communication so I’m writing on their behalf. My parents booked an apartment via Airbnb from my mom’s profile. They wanted a Russian-speaking host in order to overcome any language barrier. The host’s name was Olga. Unfortunately, there is no possibility of leaving a review on her page, for a reason… It is very important to me that this post gets the notice of Airbnb so that they may remove the host from Airbnb and other people won’t experience the same problems we did.

This host is a thief. When my parents arrived in Barcelona, they contacted Olga and she told them she was a realtor and not the owner of the flat. The flat owner, Ivan, should provide them the key. She told them she was not in Barcelona now and could not meet them. My parents tried to contact Ivan with no success for a few hours. My parents are in their mid 60’s – not a young couple – and this was very stressful for them. To find themselves in the middle of Barcelona with no place to stay, in addition to the fact they do not know Spanish and their English is very poor. After understanding that they were deceived on Airbnb (the website that we use a lot while traveling and usually are very satisfied with it) they had no other option but to just book a room in the hotel just next to the host’s apartment since they didn’t feel well and were very tired.

From the next day they found a cheaper hotel and booked there for the rest of their stay. We find it unacceptable to not have an opportunity to get in touch with someone at Airbnb and all the system provides is automatic replies. I asked Airbnb to contact us and to refund the difference between the booking and the hotel price (both hotels were the most simple ones). I have all the needed receipts and some Whatsapp conversations with the host and the owner of the flat. There were also lots of calls that were of course not recorded, unfortunately. I’m waiting for someone at Airbnb to please contact me asap.

Rude Airbnb Host in LA Stole My Jacket

My host’s name was Vince. He lived at a house near Venice Beach in LA. While listing his property, he posted a different address; the real house was much farther from Venice Beach than the address posted. I would like to say the following to him. When I first passed this message along to Vince, he didn’t recognize me as a guest and I felt ignored. With this evidence, I would like to thoroughly clarify the Airbnb messages we exchanged.

Hi Vince,

Upon arrival, I noticed right away how your listing misrepresented the property. It was unsanitary, to say the least. Your advertisement made me falsely believe that I was going to share a secure and clean room with 4~6 people, while in reality there were closer to 35 people on the entire premises and the conditions were extremely unsanitary. I felt very uncomfortable and felt the urge to cancel my reservation right away, but decided to give it a couple of days since your rates were affordable. However, this morning, I was extremely shocked to find out that someone had stolen my leather jacket, which was kept securely in the closet in my room. It is one thing to stay in a place that has been misrepresented and unsanitary for its affordability, but it is absolutely intolerable to stay at a place where security is at concern. 

I doubt he even lived in the house. He said there were four hosts, but I didn’t know who were the hosts and who were the guests. When I asked for a refund, Vince suggested that I could stay longer if I worked on the house. I was skeptical about his management system as a guest. I cannot believe people who call themselves hosts anymore. There’s just too much uncertainty using Airbnb.

Airbnb Host Accuses Guests of Swapping TV

I’m a minority that stayed at an Airbnb in Detroit at Carla’s place from March 30 – April 28, 2017 as my husband and I prepared to move into our new home. I really believed I had a great experience. I even posted a five-star review about that experience. A week later, I received an email asking if I switched the Roku box because it was different from what she thought she had. I responded I had not. I’d never even really heard of Roku until staying at that place. (no big deal, or so I thought.) Well, the next morning I awoke to what I considered to be a bold and brazen email from the host stating that there was a smaller TV in the unit than the one she had supplied. She said she would never put one that size in the unit; it was a Proscan, and she was wondering how it got there. I froze. I made my husband check all our televisions since we did bring our son’s old TV so that he could play his video game. My husband was floored and assured me that we took our own (five year old) TV home with us. There were no new TVs in our home.

I then became angry because I felt as if I was being accused of stealing a TV a week after the fact. The brand that was in the unit was one I had never heard of. When I Googled the brand, it stated that it came with built-in Roku (the service they provide). When I asked the host about this, she apologized and said maybe her staff switched it without her knowing. You mean you would offend a guest without checking with your staff first? I told her I was surprised that she didn’t take inventory. I was hurt and felt targeted. That was very unprofessional. I informed her that I would leave another review about my experience. She asked that I handle it privately since I barbecued on the lawn and she didn’t say anything: again, unprofessional… why bring it up now? Since there were picnic tables on the lawn, I assumed we could do so. We had a small table grill and we roasted hot dogs and cleaned up our mess. Had I known we weren’t supposed to barbecue, we wouldn’t have. In closing, she said in the future they would put stickers on all their items. I have no idea what to call this experience. All I know is that, it wasn’t good after the fact. I’m still angry.

Fraud from Stolen Credit Card Number on Airbnb

Last year, I booked a room on Airbnb. Everything went okay for the reservation and stay. Last week, I wanted to book a room again with Airbnb before and after a tour in Europe. I sent an email to the host to check the availability for August 2017 but to my big surprise, the room was automatically booked as Airbnb had kept my credit card information in their files. All I wanted was to check the availability, as the website was not posting a calendar like the last time. A refund from Airbnb was made for both transactions the same day as the host understood what I initially wanted to do.

A week later, I received a phone call on my voicemail at home from a well-known USA airline company (we live in Canada) to check if I had booked flights in Las Vegas to New York for $900 that morning. I spent more than two hours trying to reach the airline’s customer service (the booking number of the flight was left on my voicemail) and getting my credit card company to cancel the card. I was lucky that the airline cancelled the transaction for those who were trying to use my credit card and the scammers were not allowed to board the flight. I also found out from my credit card company that while having a good time in Las Vegas, the scammers had also tried to make a purchase for $3000 before booking the flights but the transaction did not go through because it was over the limit.

I will never use Again again. Please share this information on social media before other innocent victims fall prey to those leeches. My computer is protected with top of the line anti-virus software, so someone on the Airbnb side has connections to steal my credit card information.